"Mmm…that was amazing, Bones." And isn't it just like Jim to stroke my ego – along with everything else? He is warm and wet with sweat, resting his pretty blonde head on my chest. I know he will fall asleep soon – his swollen lips are relaxed, and he's breathing through his mouth now. Any second now…

Yep, there it is. That endearing little hitch-snore he gets when he's lightly snoozing – as soon as he starts dreaming it will fade away, but I love watching him like this, barely asleep. So trusting, cuddled up on my chest. I can watch him like this for hours – as his breathing further evens out, and his eyes start switching madly beneath his lids once he slips into REM, his too-pretty eyelashes creating little shadows over his cheeks.

I can't help but run my hands all over him – drag my fingers through his hair, feel every vertebrate on his back, lightly rest my hand on that pert bottom. My seed must be sliding out of his hole – coating his inner thighs and dripping down to tickle his balls. It will cool soon – and that won't be comfortable for him, not at all. I should slide from the bed - get a warm, wet cloth to wipe him down.

I should…but I'm so comfortable, and Jim is so warm, his breath tickling my chest. I don't want to wake him.

But then I think of how uncomfortable he'll be in the morning, sticky and crusty…He'll be in a better mood for morning sex if I clean him up now.

But when I try to slide from underneath him, he moans a little protest, arms going around my waist in an attempt to keep me where I am, and a soft "Bones" slipping from his lips. It makes my own lips twitch in what must be a silly smile - knowing that even in his dreams, I'm the one he's with.

Goddamn it, Jim – I'm a doctor, not a sap.

I wait a few minutes – no real rush, after all. It just gives me more time to feel Jim – his heart, his breathing, his warmth. Gives me more time to smell his hair and his skin, musty with the smell of our sex and sweat. God…he's so gorgeous like this – relaxed and so open.

But I really should clean him up…

When I try to get up this time, his thighs part, straddling my lower stomach as he protests my departure – giving a little wiggle in response to my movement. It is times like these that I want to compare him to a puppy – my little sleepy golden Labrador, affectionate and sweet and loyal and earnest and…

And I know that I need to get my head checked out when I compare my lover's characteristics to that of a puppy.

"Bones…" And I love the way he says that silly nickname he gave me – the one that only he uses. He gets upset when anyone else tries to call me that – says it's his name for me, and no one else can have it.

Possessive bastard – and god, I'm not even fooling anyone with that, am I? Least of all myself. I love it when he's possessive – when he gets pouty and pissy and shows everyone just who I belong to.

It gives me an excuse to get possessive in turn – which I need, considering the number of Jim's fucking admirers…

"Bones…" Oh, and there's my name again. Jim's waking up, his eyelashes fluttering a bit. God, so precious…

"Wher'ya'goin?"

Was I supposed to understand that, Jim? He frowns a little as the vibrations from my laugh shake him, and he gives a little huff against my neck.

"Meanie…"

Oh, at least we're at the first grade level now…

"I just wanted to grab a cloth to clean you up a bit. Don't want to be all crusty in the morning, do you darlin'?"

And he shivers at that – just like I knew he would. Jim can't resist the power of my "darlin'" – I don't use it too often, because then it might lose its affect, but slipping into a thicker accent always gets Jim going.

"Mmm…in a little bit, Bones. I just want to pretend for a while. Let's just pretend…"

And my eyes snap wide open at that – when had they closed? And why…why is my heart beating so fast?

No…no, my heart is not beating that fast. It's Jim…it's Jim's heart, slowing down. But…but I use him as my point of reference. How do I…how do I relate to a world without him in it?

Warm sticky wetness coating my stomach…I don't want to look down…I can't…I can't…I can't!

Jim's blood, dripping from a wound in his thigh. His heart is slowing, slowing, slowing…

Jim? Jim? Can you hear me, baby? Can you hear me? Darlin'? Stay with me, just a bit longer.

"Pretend, Bones. 's all fine, 'slong as you pretend…"

I don't want to pretend.

I don't.

Pretending is what caused all this to begin with – it's what hurt Jim so much, for so long, that he couldn't even believe that I loved him when I told him. He thought…he thought I was humoring him, telling him that I loved him.

Humoring him…It's a wonder Spock and Nyota and Chapel don't constantly look at me with derision, knowing what I've done. It's a wonder they don't kill me themselves. But I suppose they realize that is the easy way out for me – they want me to continue living so I continue suffering.

Except…except for pretend. These dream-fantasies of Jim…things that happened, and didn't happen, and could have happened, and almost happened…And I can touch him, and feel him, and smell him, and see him, and talk to him…

And then I wake up. And I know that I will never have a nightmare again – not while I'm asleep, anyway.

The real nightmare is waking up.